THE proverbial phrase “time and tide wait for no man” is usually attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature.
Chaucer’s genius at understanding human nature made him the great poet he was, yet not even he would claim to read “the grand clock of the Universe,” a sort of deific time-keeper.
That grand time keeper “points to another hour,” William Q. Judge wrote (A Year on the Path), “and now Man must seize the key in his hands and himself — as a whole — open the gate. Hitherto he has depended upon the great souls whose hands have stayed impending doom.
“Let us then together enter upon another year, fearing nothing, assured of strength in the Union of Brotherhood. For how can we fear death, or life, or any horror or evil, at any place or time, when we well know that even death itself is a part of the dream which we are weaving before our eyes.”
And even recognizing the orderly process of seasons on Earth, most wouldn’t accept that any universal time-keeper like Karma exists. Yet we observe them daily in our lives — the seasons, tides of the ocean, the biological clocks in our bodies. Thus it can be argued we do own a piece of the larger puzzle — in the sequential events of our personal lives. By diligent self-reflection, meditation and intuition, we ought to be able to see glimpses of their purpose, and gradually arrange the pieces into a meaningful picture.
Such digging may be as close as we can get to knowing and managing our personal Karma, if not the World’s destiny. Esoteric Theosophical philosophy teach that Past, Present and Future represent a “compound” time.
Indeed, Buddha’s dying words purportedly were “all compounds are perishable,” i.e. but temporary illusions.
Thus we ought to “seize” every stray event in our lives, and attempt to extract their true meaning as Judge wrote “Man must seize the key in his hands and himself — as a whole — open the gate.”
The great Sage Patanjali in his Aphorisms declared “A great and most subtle knowledge springs from the discrimination that follows upon concentration of the mind performed with regard to the relation between moments and their order.” (The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali)
On this Mr. Judge commented:
“Patanjali speaks of ultimate divisions of time which cannot be further divided, and of the order in which they precede and succeed each other. It is asserted that a perception of these minute periods can be acquired, and the result will be that he who discriminates thus goes on to greater and wider perception of principles in nature which are so recondite that modern philosophy does not even know of their existence.”
“Karma is not subject to time, and therefore he who knows what is the ultimate division of time in this Universe knows Karma.” (6)
Aphorisms on Karma
by William Q. Judge
In the realm of “noumena” (or the primary causal plane) H. P. Blavatsky wrote that these three aspects of time have no separate reality, and according to Mahayana Buddhism she wrote:
“The Past time is the Present time, as also the Future, which, though it has not come into existence, still is.”
(The Secret Doctrine Vol. 1:43)
“The second assertion of the Secret Doctrine,” Blavatsky wrote, “is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.”
One of Mme. Blavatsky’s Teachers (Mahatma K.H.) wrote: “I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words — past, present and future!” Adding they are:
“Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the Subjective Whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving.” – (Letter 8, The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett)
H. P. Blavatsky: “Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but “lies asleep.” (The Secret Doctrine 1:37)
Seeing the Future
To the uninitiated concepts of duration and time Blavatsky points out, “are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of Association.” And because they are “inextricably bound up with the relativity of human knowledge” they are superficial and only temporal tools.
Because rationalist views ignore psychic experience, they must eventually fall away in the face of thousands of reported cases such as the near-death experience. Today precognition is validated by new experimental research data in parapsychology.
Announcing the publication of a controversial work by Cornell researcher Daryl Bem in a 2003 article published in The New York Times, Dr. Bem purports to have demonstrated precognition in a series of experiments. Bem studied over 1000 people and looked for proof that future events affected past behavior, or retro causation.
His research was analyzed using standard statistical techniques. Using standard measures, Bem’s research indeed finds a causal link between future events and past behavior (or thoughts?)
“Esoterically, thought is more responsible and punishable than act. But exoterically it is the reverse. Therefore, in ordinary human law, an assault is more severely punished than the thought or intention, i.e., the threat, whereas Karmically it is the contrary.” – (H. P. Blavatsky, Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge)
“But why should this be the case? It is because ‘thought is the real plane of action’ – as William Q. Judge and Robert Crosbie have often said – and that our physical and bodily actions are simply the eventual outworking on the physical plane of the real action, which has already been formed and formulated on the mental plane.” – (Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK)
Down the Rabbit Hole
Clocks are useful for getting to meetings on time. Otherwise, time in this sense, being only the “panoramic succession of our [ordinary] states of consciousness,” it is therefore reductionist—and has only materialistic value.
Ground-level experience reveals only the outer edge of the rabbit hole, and keeps us blind to the mysteries hidden beneath — the experience which leads us to the sum-total of existence. The frontier consciousness sciences emerging today offer an exciting prospect.
In this new country, as the Red Queen told Alice:
“You must run fast just
to stay in one place.”
The eye-popping series of progressive awakenings experienced by Alice, surely led her and her readers to a greater appreciation of the mysterious and paradoxical. “Stagnation and death is the future of all that vegetates without a change,” proclaimed Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine. Like couch-potatoes, standard-model science sits on a railway platform waiting for a train that, for everyone, will never come.
Senior scientist Dean Radin, of The Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS), is a rigorous scientific explorer who boldly goes where the establishment won’t, methodically measuring the ‘immeasurable’. In this clip he explains his ongoing experiments showing evidence of “presentiment” or precognition. With every thought we think, whether it is with the intent of a future objective action or not, Theosophy says — we are emitting Karmic energy and setting causes in motion which, like all causes, will eventually have to have their due corresponding effect.
“Presentiment,” a term used by Dr. Dean Radin of IONS fame, is a feeling that something strange or unusual is about to happen. Radin got the idea “to monitor a person’s skin conductance before, during, and after viewing emotional and calm pictures, and then see if the autonomic nervous system responded appropriately before the picture appeared.”
Forest for the Trees
Objective time and reality always appear in a linear frame, and as the legendary punster of the Yankee’s baseball team, Yogi Berra, once quipped:
“I knew I was going to take the wrong train,
so I left early.”
Berra sensed there was more than meets the eye when he made that playful pun at the phenomenon of precognition.
The Mind’s Eye
The author and diarist Anais Nin famously remarked:
“We don’t see things as they are,
we see things as we are.”
If what “we are” is determined solely by our five senses, then we see only what’s inside a sealed box.
John Muir, for whom stuffy boxes were anathema believed instead that
“The clearest way to the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
The “Compound time” cannot be separated from the future which is an essential part of the mystery “wilderness” within us. The illusion occurs in separation, and then we are unable see the greater forest for the trees, though they are one.
The poet/artist William Blake saw “a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower,” that most of us would probably have passed unnoticed. (Auguries of Innocence)
But even such sublime ethics “must give room to still further absolute perfection,” Blavatsky wrote, “to a higher standard of excellence — just as a perfect flower must cease to be a perfect flower and die, in order to grow into a perfect fruit.”
“All instruction is but a finger pointing to the moon, and those whose gaze is fixed upon the pointer will never see beyond. Even let him catch sight of the moon, and still he cannot see its beauty.” – Osho
Albert Einstein’s main objection to quantum mechanics, as accepted then, was that it provided no reasonable explanation of the world, and in some sense denied what many believed it means to truly exist. While walking with his biographer physicist Abraham Pais, Pais reported Einstein in frustration asked “whether I really believed that the moon exists only when I look at it.”
“You believe in the God that plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists, and which I, in a wildly speculative way, am trying to capture.” – A. Einstein
Einstein’s complicated genius included, nevertheless, a universal and compassionate thinker, who said: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space.”
And he wrote of a human being “that experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us,” he wrote, “restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us.”
“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
The Mind’s Eye
Universal unity or non-duality is a popular topic of discussion today. There is a website devoted to it (nonduality.com), and a blog and even a conference October 21-25: titled Science And Non-Duality.
It’s the same concept that engaged Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine. Everything is alive and conscious in “Esoteric philosophy,” she wrote, and “life we look upon as ‘the one form of existence, manifesting in what is called matter—or, as in man, what, incorrectly separating them, we name Spirit, Soul and Matter.”
Further: “Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence,
and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all.”
“The idea of universal life is one of those ancient conceptions which are returning to the human mind in this century, as a consequence of its liberation from anthropomorphic theology.”
Seeing the Future
At Francis Lucille’s The Advaita Channel you’ll find an insightful article A Primer on Advaita. We were inspired by a quote from Professor Lucille on Advaita philosophy, which tackles the problem of duality by first focusing our full attention on the ‘I’ at every moment.
Once the illusion or limitation becomes obvious, it falls away, and then begin to appreciate the ‘not-I’—by this practice, paradoxically, we are gradually compelled to attend to the greater wholeness within which the smaller ‘I’ exists. As Lao-Tze put it: “The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao.”
“Consciousness is defined as that, whatever that is, which is aware of these very words right here, right now. …
“The student who practices self inquiry keeps his attention focused onto the source of the I-thoughts and I-feelings, whenever they arise.”
“Once enlightenment has taken place, the process of self inquiry continues effortlessly. The attention spontaneously reverts to the source at the end of each thought and feeling and there is no need to focus the attention any longer.”
by H. P. Blavatsky
“TIME is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced — but ‘lies asleep.’
“The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past.
“Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change—or the same—for the billionth part of a second.”
“And the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of ‘time’ known as the present, comes from the blurring of that momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals which we call the future, to the region of memories that we name the past.
“In the same way we experience a sensation of duration in the case of the instantaneous electric spark, by reason of the blurred and continuing impression on the retina. The real person or thing does not consist solely of what is seen at any particular moment, but is composed of the sum of all its various and changing conditions from its appearance in the material form to its disappearance from the earth.
“It is these ‘sum-totals’ that exist from eternity in the ‘future,’ and pass by degrees through matter, to exist for eternity in the ‘past.’
“No one could say that a bar of metal dropped into the sea came into existence as it left the air, and ceased to exist as it entered the water, and that the bar itself consisted only of that cross-section thereof which at any given moment coincided with the mathematical plane that separates, and, at the same time, joins, the atmosphere and the ocean.”
“Even so of persons and things, which, dropping out of the to-be into the has-been, out of the future into the past—[they]
present momentarily to our senses a cross-section, as it were, of their total selves,
as they pass through time and space (as matter) on their way from one eternity to another: and these two constitute that ‘duration‘ in which alone anything has true existence, were our senses but able to cognize it there.”